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Just Wow

Wow.

That’s one of very few words that was able to leave my lips.

I was stunned.  Blown away.  Completely overwhelmed.

Didn’t see it coming.

Tears aren’t usually a part of my preparation for Tuesday night’s 20’s and 30’s group that meets at our house.

But something is happening in this healing heart that is causing it to take in familiar information in new ways.  Eyes that must have been closed tight with fear are opening wide.  Something is being birthed and taking its first real breath.  Awake.  Alive.  Free.

But I digress….

Read John 17.  I mean really, really read it.  It’s Jesus’ passionate prayer for His disciples and future believers.  Jesus is pleading with His Father on their, ON OUR, behalf.

Okay, now read it out loud.  With meaning and inflection.  Hear the love in His voice.  This is His prayer as He is getting ready to go to the cross.  He was praying for His friends.  FOR US.

Soak in that thought.

He is asking His Father to protect and unify His children.  US.  He longs for us to be ONE AS HE AND THE FATHER ARE ONE.  He asks for protection for that unity.  Protection from the evil one whose goal is to destroy that unity.

This prayer is a love letter for the disciples, FOR US, read out loud by the Prince of Peace to His Father, the King of Kings.

Read it again.

JESUS LOVES US.  LOVES YOU!!!!

But wait!  There’s more!

The love letter of prayer continues and doesn’t stop!

We are being prayed for TODAY!  THIS MINUTE!

Romans 8:34 – Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

Hebrews 7:25 – Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

 Romans 8:26-27 – In the same way, the Spirit (who came when Jesus went back to heaven, a representation of Jesus Himself) helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
And why is Jesus so qualified to pray for us in such a way?  Because He was that hight priest for us that had experienced the difficulty of living on planet earth.
Hebrews 4:15 – For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.   

He knows how to pray for us because He became one of us.

HE LOVES US.  HE LOVES YOU!!!!

Read John 17 again.

Yeah.

Wow….

But

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Hair Nets And Aprons

Last night Abby and and I got to be part of something that two of the gals in our 20’s and 30’s group pulled together.

Kids Against Hunger.

This organization has been around since the ’70’s, but just came to this part of California in 2010.  They invite volunteer groups to come in to put together food packages for kids in various parts of the world who are literally starving to death.

There were about 15 of us last night.

The evening started with hair nets and aprons.  Yeah, we be stylin’. :-)

kids against hunger

Then there was a time to learn what the organization is all about.  The food we were packing is going to Haiti, where 50% of the children there die before age 15.  Starvation and malnutrition are a huge problem for this country so wrecked by poverty.

Each bag that we packed got a scoop of soy, a scoop of dehydrated veggies, a scoop of rice and a scoop of powdered vitamins and minerals.  This combo can be fixed with boiling water in 15 minutes and serve 6 people.  We each got to try a small portion of this ‘meal in a bag’ and it was delicious!  But beyond its great taste, it has been researched to provide essential nutrients and protein in a way that a young child who has been starving can easily digest.  Because this may be the only meal a child gets in a day, its combination works to keep their tummies satisfied for as long as possible.

With music playing and laughter filling the warehouse, 90 minutes passed quickly.  The boxes in the picture are what our group was able to put together and totaled over 4,000 meals that will head out to Haiti today!

We ended the night with prayer over these boxes of food, that these children and families would not only have full tummies, but full hearts as they receive the message of Jesus’ love, their physical needs being met through the compassion of others.

I can’t wait to be part of this organization again.  So well run.  A great education in parts of the world we are generally unfamiliar with.  And another great opportunity to bond with others in one common effort of service.

I would highly recommend this to anyone who has a group of 10 or more who would like to donate an evening.  You will come away more aware, more impassioned and more excited for the next opportunity to make the tiniest, but profound difference in someone else’s life.

Matthew 10:42 – And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.

Proverbs 14:31 – …whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

Matthew 25:40 – The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

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RE: IF I….

Words, glorious words!!!!

I love the sometimes hidden meaning behind them.

It’s like opening a beautiful gift, thinking you know what’s inside, but then finding a gorgeous and unexpected treasure tucked inside the usual wrappings.

The word REIFY flashed across my computer screen already this morning.  I never even knew the word existed.  But do you know what it means?  “to make something abstract more concrete or real”.

The meaning of REIFY is exactly what happened yesterday when another “word package” was opened for me yesterday.

We heard an amazing sermon yesterday, and a portion of it was discovering the true meaning of “glory”.  That at the root of the original Hebrew word for glory, are definitions like “weight”, leading to translations of importance and value; reputation and worth.

The “glory of God” is addressed over and over and over in Scripture.  In fact, in Exodus 33:19, Moses was told that no human being could see the glory of God (Yahweh) and survive.  God’s glory carries so much weight we would be crushed, so much brilliance we would be blinded if we were exposed to all of it while we are here on this earth.

But God shares bursts of His glory through the earthly things we can handle and relate to this side of heaven.  The things we see and experience, the people we encounter and love, the gifts of surrounding nature.

And sometimes through miracles, both large and small.

Even when those miracles seem late or backwards.

Yesterday the speaker talked about John 11, where  Lazarus, Jesus’ friend, gets sick and dies. (Please read the whole story for full impact!)

Jesus knew Lazarus was sick, and even, of course, knew that he would die.  But He allowed all of that to happen for greater impact.  He wanted to REIFY the meaning of the spiritual truth of eternal life after death and reveal the GLORY of God by showing those who loved Lazarus something beyond just a miracle.

As our speaker said yesterday, Jesus used the temporary miracle of raising a man from the dead (Lazarus would eventually die again), to illustrate an eternal truth and to reveal more of God’s GLORY – His weight, value, worth, importance, reputation.  To say, in essence, “if you think this is good, you should see what awaits you in heaven!  God in ALL His GLORY!!!!

REIFY.  To make something abstract more concrete or real.

I think I might change the spelling to RE: IF I….  As in, re:if I look a little closer, dig a little deeper, read a little further, I might find more untold treasures.

Yeah.  I think I like it…. :-)

Jeremiah 33:3 – Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

1 Corinthians 2:9 – However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him–… 

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There is something wonderful that happens at the end of our rope…..

Just when you feel like you are barely hanging on by the last unraveling fringe, Jesus reminds us that we were never supposed to be hanging on to the rope in the first place.

And He asks us to do the scariest thing ever.

“Let go.”

Yesterday as I was sitting at the beautifully decorated table between my two sweet friends, Lori and Ruth (who had come to Alameda with me just to support me!), something happened to me.

A roaring pain came flying at my chest, squeezing and suffocating, accompanied by loss of all strength in every limb of my body.

I suddenly realized that I had been holding tightly to the rope of my preparation for this talk on fear.  I had spent weeks studying and fighting off the schemes and tactics of the enemy, and suddenly it felt like all of that hard work was lost.  Not a thought in my brain.  Not an ounce of strength in my being.  My rope was unraveling quickly.

And then, as Jesus always seems to do with me, He provided strength through friends and humor.  Ruth and Lori held me up in fervent prayer in the bathroom.  Surely the most beautiful thing that has ever happened in that public restroom.

As we came back to our table and I was being attached to my cordless mic, the woman who was putting it on me said, “You do know that your dress is inside out, right?”

Well, actually no.  No, I didn’t know that I was about to get up on a stage in front of 100 women I’d never met wearing an inside out dress.

Jesus, Lori, Ruth and I decided that keeping it that way as I talked would be the way to go.  Inside out became the segue to me introducing myself to these women.  Imperfect, a little crazy, dorky me.

When I walked up on stage, I left my rope at the table.  I let go.

And with every step up those few short stairs, I was throwing myself into the arms of Jesus, who had been waiting for the moment I would release my grip on preparation and planning.

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It couldn’t have been more appropriate that I shared my inside out tags with these women.  Because that’s what Jesus was asking me to do.  Turn inside out with these strangers.  Share with them my own struggle with anxiety and fear and to show them firsthand what Jesus has been teaching me in this spiritual battle.  Real.  Honest.  Raw.  And very fresh from experience.

I can’t speak for how it came across to them, but I can tell you what happened in me as I spoke.  There was a strength like I’ve never known.  Power and passion and confidence and enthusiasm that came directly from the power of the Holy Spirit at work inside of me.  My insides spilling out effortlessly.

Not because of my preparation or planning.

But because, like we’d thought all along, God had a message He wanted to give to these women.  A message that Satan did everything to stop.

And Jesus was the Champion!  He won that fierce battle for us.  And the victory looked like sweet peace.  Nothing in the way so that even in my inside out dress I could become invisible and all they could see was Jesus’ love for them.

I finally got out of the way.  I finally let go.  I finally trusted the fall from the rope.

One more step of healing and growth in this ninety day journey of the heart….

Inside out never felt so good….

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

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Much Obliged

Prayers deeply appreciated as I head to Alameda this morning to talk to women about combatting fear with undeniable truth.  Excited for what God is going to do.  Also very aware that the enemy is not happy with the prospect of the topic.  He has been throwing a temper tantrum both on my end and in Alameda.  Pray that I apply everything that Jesus has shown me in preparing for today.

Hugs and more hugs….

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I AM NOT GOD

I am drawn toward broken things.

I love the process of restoration and change and transformation.

It’s why I love scavenging for furniture and decor pieces that just need a little TLC and time spent bringing out their true beauty.

It’s why I love finding things on the side of the road, all dirty and abandoned, and rescuing them.

It’s why I love to trim back a dying plant and then watch it flourish with new life.

It’s undoubtedly why I still dream of being a nurse in a hospital setting.

It’s also why I love to listen to people who are hurting and in need of a Savior and sharing Hope with them.

I’m thinking all of that should be a good thing.

But, as with anything else in this world, when a good thing becomes obsessive in nature it can become harmful.

in my case, i have become my own worst enemy.  Trapped in my own obsession to make everything “right” and healthy and good.  To fix everything I see and touch.

Because, truth be told,  I can’t always do it.

Sometimes my restoration projects just flop.

Sometimes my dead plants don’t come back.

And sometimes I can’t fix the hurting people around me.

If i could explain what happens inside my heart when my intervention isn’t enough, I would.

But there are no real words for the internal angst that occurs in my soul.

NEWS FLASH TO SELF:  I AM NOT GOD.

It never occurred to me that my zeal for wanting to right the wrongs and heal the hurting and fix the broken was taking something into my own hands that are best left in the hands of the Expert.

This is another painful, but much needed, lesson I am learning in this 90 day process of healing.

It ain’t pretty.

And it’s definitely not pleasant.

But it feels a little brave.

i am learning what it feels like to loosen my grip a little.   The beginning of letting go of things I can’t fix.  Releasing the false sense of responsibility that I’ve carried for anything my eyes and ears take in.

Ironically, as I recognize my inability to heal others, I begin to heal inside myself.

My hands and heart still available to join Jesus in the process of restoration and ministry, but my mind aware that only He can do what all my good intentions will never be able to accomplish.

And suddenly, I can breathe….

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Changing Tactics

Fast and furious –  the thoughts and ideas that are running through my head as I’m finishing up details for the talk I’m giving on Saturday.

But chasing right behind them, grabbing at their ankles, are the ghosts of fears past.  Anxiety, doubt, insecurity.  Enemies whose legs are not as strong as they used to be, but who are giving a last ditch effort to push and trip me.

It only makes sense, of course.  This is spiritual battle at its finest.

When God is up to something, fine tuning His beautifully elaborate plan (as always), the enemy panics.  He tries desperately to distract and paralyze and confuse.

I shouldn’t be surprised that, given the subject matter (spiritual courage), Satan is a little spooked.  He lashes out in his own fear of spiritual awakening and growth.

And honestly, I’ve had about enough of it.

Oh, his tactics won’t change.

But mine can!

If, when I feel his attacks I am down on my knees instead of up in arms.

If, when he taunts. I am prompted to pray and praise instead of crumble in tears.

If, when I feel suffocated by the oppression of fear, I remember to breathe in deeply the Breath of Life.

If, when he expects me to raise my white flag in surrender, I instead raise the Truth as my victory.

Every single time, like William Wallace in Braveheart, I can cry out “Freedom!” and mean it.

Vision clears.

Perspective changes.

Paper chains fall off.

Courage emerges.

And I can get back to the business of joining my Jesus in what He is up to.

Hello, new day!  Let’s do this thing….

2 Timothy 1:7 – For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Isaiah 41:10 – Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

John 16:33 –  I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.But take heart! I have overcome the world.

 

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Singin’ and Dancin’

You know what’s awesome?

I’ll tell you what’s awesome.

Riding in the car with someone you love, singing your lungs out together.

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Janay and I headed to Sacramento yesterday to meet with the women who run the headquarters and do all the behind-the-scenes work that makes Agape ministries able to function and thrive and grow.

We sang and sang and sang all the way there.  Even got in some pretty amazing safe-while-driving dance moves.

As if that wasn’t awesome enough…

We spent the afternoon with the Agape gals. They’re hilarious, bright, incredibly compassionate and did I mention hilarious? Bottom line, they were just an absolute delight to be with, to share with, to laugh and pray with.  They treated us to coffee at a quaint little coffee shop with a back patio where we spent time just getting to know each other.  They prayed for Janay, her protection, her rest, her store, and most importantly, the refreshment of her heart, soul, mind and body while she is in the states.  It was a beautiful thing and touched this mama’s heart like you can’t believe.

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To hear Janay tell stories of what God has done, to see the simple grace and confidence that exudes from her as she shares about the country, the people, the friends that have become her home was precious.  It’s obvious that being there has built a strength inside and out as she has had to see and do and face things she never could have imagined before she went there.   Somehow she has developed a tougher skin while attaining an even more tender heart.  A dichotomy that can only happen through the presence and activity of the ‘paraclete’ that I wrote about yesterday.

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After we left these women, we went to dinner with one of Janay’s coworker’s parents.  It was so much fun to sit and talk with people who know what it’s like to have a child overseas, and even sweeter that while we were there in June, we met and had dinner with their precious daughter.  (Who, crazily enough, went to Sunday School in Renton, WA with my girls 20 years ago! She and Janay figured that out in conversation one day when Janay first arrived in Cambodia!)

And guess what we did on the way home from this long, very good day?

Loud singing and dance moves.  What else?

Tonight? More loud singing and dance moves as Janay, Abby and I head to a Lorde concert!  And then we come home to the last two kids arriving at the house for a family-all-in-one-place weekend!

Happy, happy sigh….

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I learned a new word this week.

I was studying John chapter 16 for our 20’s and 30’s group, and in looking at commentaries on the passage, the word “counselor” or “advocate” or “helper” (talking about the Holy Spirit) was described by the word “paraclete”.

When I pronounced it in the group, it came out sounding like “parakeet”.

But when our sweet Greek friend in the group, Soteri, pronounced it, it sounded like a beautiful musical chord.  This makes sense, since its origin is Greek.

Its meaning is just as gorgeous as its correct pronunciation.

Counselor.  Advocate.  Helper.  Intercessor.  Comforter.

All of these words wrapped into one – the Holy Spirit.

In John 16, Jesus is talking to His disciples about Who will be taking His place after His death, resurrection and ascension back into Heaven to rejoin His Father.  The “paraclete” would come and would offer everything that Jesus offered them while He was with them.

Counselor.  Advocate.  Helper.  Intercessor.  Comforter.

Jesus had been all of these things to His disciples in a very visible, tangible way.  All of the things He offered them had the luxury of being seen, heard, felt from the outside in.  His ministry worked from without to transform within.

But just like God and all of His mysterious, glorious ways, things would transcend what these people could imagine.  And when Jesus returned to heaven, the Holy Spirit would come and continue the same work as Jesus, but this time from the inside out!  Their transformed hearts would result in their outside lives never being the same.  They would begin impacting the world around them because of the power within them!

Counselor.  Advocate.  Helper.  Intercessor.  Comforter.

Do we recognize the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives today as the work of Jesus Himself?  Do we realize that when we listen and tap into the counsel, the advocacy, the help, the intercession, the comfort of the Holy Spirit, that we are experiencing the same thing that the disciples did in the company and ministry of Jesus?

Jesus told His friends that the “paraclete” would say only what He Himself would say. John 16:13-15 –  But when he, the Spirit of truth,comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.  He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.  All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.

Jesus had already informed the disciples that every word He spoke came directly from God the Father.  John 12:49-50 –  I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken.  I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.

Counselor.  Advocate.  Helper.  Intercessor.  Comforter.

Straight from the Father, thru the Son, and now played out through the Holy Spirit.  All one God, but a ministry of three unique personalities giving us everything we need for “life and godliness”.  2 Peter 1:3  –   His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

Enjoy the presence of your “paraclete” today.  The very essence of God, of Jesus in the very really presence of the Holy Spirit within you.

Counselor.  Advocate.  Helper.  Intercessor.  Comforter.

Best. BFF.  Ever.

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